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The BBC's Rob Parsons
"He's calling this the demilitarisation of Russian society"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Putin brings in own team
President Putin
Putin: decisive changes
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has made the most decisive changes to his government since his election one year ago.

Most notably, he has sacked the Defence Minister, Marshall Igor Sergeyev, and replaced him with a civilian, Sergei Ivanov, a first for Russia.

Vladimir Putin (seated) and new Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov
Sergei Ivanov: Putin's new left-hand man

In another first, he also brought in a woman, Lyubov Kudelina, as deputy defence minister.

Changes had been predicted, although perhaps not on this scale, but the financial markets appeared unperturbed by the moves.

Charm offensive

Mr Ivanov is a close ally of the president and, like him, was until recently a spy.

They both served in the St Petersburg KGB.

He may have more success than his predecessor at pushing through the much-needed restructuring of the armed services.

Main moves
Sergei Ivanov: first civilian defence minister
Former Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev: presidential adviser on strategic stability
Lyubov Kudelina: first woman deputy defence minister
Boris Gryzlov: a relative newcomer and leader of the pro-Kremlin Unity party, becomes interior minister
Former Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo: takes over from Sergei Ivanov as secretary of the Security Council

Reforms had not been helped by the continual sparring between former Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev and Chief of Staff Analtoli Kvashnin.

Mr Ivanov is also expected to take on a new role as the main link in the increasingly complicated relationship with the United States.

"He is a suave, soft-spoken man with a good command of English," says the BBC's Russian affairs specialist, Malcolm Haslett, "but during a recent visit to Washington there was little sign of personal 'chemistry'."

Putin's grip tightens

President Putin called the changes a step towards the demilitarisation of society.

They fit with his aim of creating a united and loyal team.

Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov
Boris Gryzlov: Meteoric rise

The three new ministers, the new chief of the security council and the foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, who held on to his job, all report directly to Mr Putin, rather than to Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov.

One of the most surprising promotions is that of relative novice Boris Gryzlov, the new interior minister.

He was a little-known electrical engineer until 15 months ago when he was elected to parliament as a member of the hastily assembled pro-Putin Unity Party. He subsequenty became its leader.

His predecessor, Vladimir Rushailo, a career policeman and expert on organised crime, takes over as secretary of the influential security council.

Mr Putin promised further changes.

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See also:

29 Mar 01 | Europe
Putin's cunning plan
29 Mar 01 | Media reports
Putin's new ministers in profile
28 Mar 01 | Business
Russia rejects IMF loan
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